America is facing a period of prolonged high unemployment that will require a strong response to stop the bonds of society from breaking, writes David Brooks. The recession's biggest impact has been on men, Brooks writes, noting that the gap between male and female unemployment is at its highest since records began. "Men who are unemployed for a significant amount of time are more likely to drink more, abuse their children more and suffer debilitating blows to their identity."
Young people have also been hit disproportionately hard, and "over a lifetime, recession kids can expect to earn $100,000 less than their luckier cohorts." The social response should include redefining masculinity to encourage older men into service jobs and focusing antipoverty campaigns on working-class areas like Michigan as well as inner cities, Brooks writes in the New York Times, suggesting that entrepreneurs step in to repair the social gaps where the government can't. "Somehow there must be a way to use the country’s idle talent to address freshly exposed needs."